Beginning in 1976 a pseudoscientific pamphlet spread like wildfire across Europe, stating that many common food additives caused cancer – including cellulose and citric acid.
In 1648 a Dutch water board issued a bond that paid 5% interest annually, with no maturity date. That water board still pays interest on the bond today.
What do you do when a plane cannot land because of heavy fog? In WWII Britain, you set the runway on fire.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was written by a German author under the pseudonym B. Traven. Who was he? We don’t know.
The campaign for women’s voting rights was not smooth: by 1913 suffragettes in Britain were setting fire to houses, cricket pavilions, and Westminster Abbey.
Oliver Reed, the famed actor and alcoholic, drank 8 pints of beer, 12 shots of rum, half a bottle of whiskey, and some shots of cognac, arm-wrestled five sailors, and then died of a heart attack.
In 1899 the President of France died, in his office, alone with his much younger mistress. If rumour is to be believed, he died happy.
The inventor of the pie chart and the bar chart was also a secret agent who helped collapse the French revolutionary government’s economy through an elaborate counterfeiting operation.
The Red Hand is the symbol of the province of Ulster, but its origins are lost in time. Possible sources include three different clans, pagans, fairies, and a soldier who chopped off his own hand.
Oh great, it’s raining blood again! I hope it’s just rain dust from the desert and not intercontinental cloud algae.
The last person to be executed for treason against the United Kingdom was not actually British.
In 1947 the English author Dennis Wheatley wrote a letter to the dystopian future he thought was coming and buried it. Twenty-two years later the letter was uncovered. It had not aged well.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books have a long history in the Soviet Union and Russia, from illegal translations in the 1960s to a film in the 1980s to an unauthorised retelling sympathetic to the orcs in the 1990s.
When a location is abandoned by humans, nature returns. Sci-fi author Bruce Sterling calls these feral landscapes involuntary parks.
The heart symbol may have originated with an ancient Roman form of birth control, a plant that is probably now extinct.